European shares rise, head for best month in 5-1/2 years
The German share price index DAX board is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt - REUTERS

LONDON: The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index advanced on Friday and headed for its best monthly performance in 5-1/2 years, with Germany’s DAX share index outperforming after encouraging retail sales data.

The DAX rose 0.6 percent after German retail sales increased for a fifth consecutive year in 2014, rising by 1.4 percent in real terms, reflecting the buoyant mood among consumers in Europe’s largest economy.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3 percent at 1,477.75 points by 0808 GMT. The index has gained nearly 8 percent this month, its best month in percentage terms since mid-2009, on expectations of a bond-buying program by the European Central Bank, which was finally announced earlier in January.

Swedish hygiene and paper products maker SCA rose 7.9 percent after posting a bigger than expected rise in core fourth-quarter profit despite higher raw material costs and headwinds from a stronger dollar.

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